A section of the R446, near Coláiste Chiaráin, with no markings to show the road boundary. A resurfacing project is set to begin in the area in the coming weeks.

Council says €300k resurfacing along old Galway Road will start shortly

Ongoing safety concerns highlighted at R446 outside Coláiste Chiaráin

Roscommon County Council has indicated that work on a €300,000 resurfacing project in the Summerhill area of Athlone will begin in the coming weeks.

The local authority said "road markings and signage detailing the urban environment" will be part of the project on the R446, or old Galway Road, after concerns about the safety of the busy thoroughfare outside Coláiste Chiaráin were raised by parents of students at the secondary school.

Local resident, and Coláiste Chiaráin parent, Corin Bishop highlighted this issue at the start of the school year in September 2020.

Twelve months on, he said that, while some work had been carried out near the school's entrance, the substantive safety issues on the R446 had not been addressed.

"My son, who is currently using crutches due to an injury, has to cross a busy road, with no road markings, speeding cars, slippy roadside conditions, and poor visibility," he said.

"There are at least a dozen other pupils who need to cross, and some who need to walk on the other side of the road with 16-20 inches between grass and cars travelling up to 100km per hour.

Local councillors John Naughten and John Keogh indicated that €300,000 in funding had been allocated for the upcoming road overlay, or resurfacing, work.

Cllr Naughten said it was his understanding that the width of the road would be narrowed as part of this work, which would help to slow traffic in the area.

When contacted by the Westmeath Independent, Roscommon County Council said it had carried out "a range of improvement works" near Coláiste Chiaráin. It said there had been improvements for pedestrians on the R446 between the roundabout at Crannagh, Summerhill, and the junction with the Drum Road (L2027).

"Road overlay works extending westwards from the roundabout at Crannagh are imminent on the R446, with road markings and signage detailing the urban environment being implemented," said the council.

"Significant active travel improvement works are ongoing on local primary road L2027 (Drum Road) adjacent to the R446. These works include boundary treatments, drainage, footpaths and cycle ways improvements, controlled crossing, road markings, signage and landscaping."

Cllr Naughten said €300k on the R446 resurfacing work would be spent before the end of this year, but that additional improvements would still be required "as you go out towards Cornafulla, along the R446, out to what was the Interlink depot at one stage.

"There are further measures needed out along there, such as footpaths and so forth, to reduce the speed of the traffic long-term."

He said he would also like to see a pedestrian crossing on the R446 at Coláiste Chiaráin, but there may be difficulties in getting this installed on a regional road, where the speed limit is 60km.

In the longer-term, Cllr Naughten felt there was a need for a roundabout to be developed at the Drum road junction, and he hoped this would be included in the Athlone Area Transport Plan being developed jointly by Roscommon and Westmeath county councils.

Cllr John Keogh said he expected the resurfacing work on the R446 would commence within weeks and that it "should greatly enhance" the safety of the road. He said the work would also seek to deter motorists from turning right, onto the R446, from the Drum road, as this has been causing concern to locals.

"'No right-hand turn' signs will go in to encourage motorists to turn left from Drum and use the roundabout then just up the road. Hopefully motorists will be responsible and follow the directional traffic signs," he added.